Do you see your mother on a regular basis? If the answer is no, you might want to reconsider spending more time with her. According to research, it could improve her health — and maybe even add years to her life.
A 2012 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found a link between loneliness and decreased quality of life in older adults. Risk of depression, cognitive impairment and health problems are amongst the issues associated with the negative health impact loneliness can have on somebody's health, all which could translate to an earlier death.
The study examined 1,600 adults with the average of 71, asking them about loneliness and tracking their lives. What researchers found is that of those who reported being lonely, 23 percent died within six years. Those who reported having companionship fared much better — just 14 percent died during the same period.
This isn’t the first study to demonstrate the importance of meaningful relationships and longevity. A 2016 study, which analyzed four long-term studies found that meaningful relationships can impact our health just as much as exercising and eating properly do. In fact, the author of the paper, Kathleen Mullan Harris, a sociologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and senior author of the paper, told the Boston Globethat the lack of social connections later in life is similar to having diabetes in terms of increasing hypertension.
Researchers determined that the more social connections an individual had, their health was positively impacted. Meaning, the more relationships and contact you have with others, the better!
While these findings aren't limited to moms or women for that matter, and they can likely be applied to anyone regardless of age, their impact on the older generations is much more profound. Take your mother for example. Most of her life was likely consumed by romantic relationships, taking care of children living at home and a career.
But as she got older, her children likely moved out of the house, she may have retired and possibly lost a partner. Which means her support system has likely been negatively impacted, and it is much more likely she is lonelier than she was in her younger years.
If you want to make a big difference in her life — or any other older loved on for that matter — you should seriously consider spending more quality time with them. Whether it’s arranging fun activities together or even making an effort to call them every day on the phone, little gestures can go a long way in making your loved one feel a little bit less lonely.